[mappress mapid=”2″][mappress mapid=”2″]Chile has long been overshadowed by its more illustrious neighbors — Brazil and Argentina — when it comes to tourist attractions. However, with recent developments in the tourism infrastructure, there has been newfound interest in this Latin American nation. Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes range of mountains, Chile is blessed with a diverse landscape. It is one of the southernmost countries in the world, even laying claim to some parts of Antarctica. Chile has some of the most spectacular natural scenery in the world, ranging from the driest desert on the planet to fjords and glaciers. Coupled with some vibrant cities with their urban offerings, Chile presents a complete package to its visitors. In this blog, we will list 12 of the top tourist attractions that Chile has to offer.
- Chiloe Churches
The Chiloe Churches are a unique landmark located on the archipelago of Chiloe, on the western central coastline of Chile. These churches were constructed in the distinct Chilota style of architecture that is typified by the use of native timber with wood shingles which helped counter the humid and rainy oceanic climate of the region. Constructed between the 18th and 19th centuries, the Chiloe Churches were a fusion of the Spanish Jesuit culture and the traditional skills of the local native people. The churches were left in a state of disrepair before being renovated in the recent years. Presently a UNESCO World Heritage Site, all of the 16 renovated Chiloe Churches are stacked on the central eastern zone of the archipelago and present an excellent example of the Mestizo culture.
- San Rafael Glacier
Located in the southern part of Chile is the San Rafael Glacier — the tidewater glacier that is nearest to the Equator. Part of glacier is protected under the Laguna San Rafael National Park which covers an area of over 17,400 sq km! A 16 km long fjord within this glacier is a major tourist attraction of the park which is listed as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The glacier is accessible only by boat or plane. If time is not a factor, take the boat, as you will be able to enjoy the breathtaking scenery while riding to the glacier.
Located just 116 km west of Santiago is the 3rd largest city of Chile — Valparaiso. This beachfront city makes it to our list of top 12 attractions because of its scenic coastal views, brightly colored houses, and bohemian culture. Although the city has several attractions like the Naval and Maritime Museum, La Matriz Church, Cerro Bellavista, and Prat Street, it is the ambiance of the city that makes it special. Walk the city streets, laze around the beach, enjoy the traditional Chorrillana dish, or simply strike a conversation with a local and you will feel the magic this city has to offer.
- Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works
Humberstone and Santa Laura are 2 desert towns located about 48 km east of the port city of Iquique in northern Chile. The 2 towns have over 200 abandoned saltpeter works that were once part of a booming economy attracting workers from Chile, Peru, and Bolivia. Today, these are nothing but ghost towns with the ruins of the saltpeter works that have become tourist attractions. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its social impact during its 60 years of operation from the 1880s. The sodium nitrate fertilizer that was manufactured here brought huge fortunes to Chile and transformed agriculture in the Americas and Europe. Visit the site to witness how the workers of the Pampinos culture toiled in one of the driest deserts in the world — the Atacama. Taking a guide is highly recommended for the remoteness of this attraction.
- Pumalin Park
Located in the Palena Province of southern Chile, Pumalin Park is the largest private nature reserve of Chile. It is spread over 3250 sq km and stretches from the Pacific coast to the Andes mountains. The park offers some remarkable scenery that attracts thousands of hikers and trekking enthusiasts every year. The rich flora that is protected in this nature sanctuary include Alerce — the oldest species of trees known to man. Owned and operated by the Conservation Land Trust of USA, the park has several hiking trails, camp grounds, and visitor centers. The highlight of the park is the stunningly picturesque Renihue Fjord near its central zone. If you are an outdoor enthusiast then a visit to the Pumalin Park is a must for its unspoiled natural beauty and scenic nature trails.
The city of Santiago is not only the capital and largest city of Chile, it is also the cultural and financial hub of this Latin American nation. For most tourists, this is the gateway to the various attractions of Chile — because of its connectivity and central location. Santiago is no less a tourist attraction in itself. Museums, parks, colonial architecture, wineries, shopping districts, and a vibrant nightlife make Santiago a perfect urban attraction for its visitors. If you are game for a day trip, the skiing and mountain climbing are also on offer. If you are there on a clear day, take a trip to San Cristobal Hill at the northern flank of the city, which has stunning panoramic views of the city and the Andes. The park at the peak has a zoo, a botanical garden, 2 swimming pools, and a church with a 22 m high statue of Virgin Mary.
- Los Pinguinos Natural Monument
Spread over 2 islands — Magdalena and Marta — on the Straits of Magellan is the largest penguin colony of Chile: the Los Pinguinos Natural Monument. Located just 35 km north east of the city of Punta Arenas, this is one of the most important conservation efforts of the country. The islands are uninhabited by humans but are home to around 60,000 breeding pairs of Magellanic penguins making it a top tourist attraction of Chile. Presently, only guided tours are allowed to these islands. The best time to visit this place is in September or October when you may also spot seals and sea lions.
- Lauca National Park
Located in the northeastern part of Chile, 145 km east of Arica, is one of the major nature attractions of the country — the Lauca National Park. The park covers an area of 1300 sq km and is sprinkled with large snow-capped volcanoes and expansive lava fields. One of the most well known sites of the park is of the snow-capped dormant Parinacota volcano, with its twin brother Pomerape Volcan standing across the border in Bolivia. Another attraction, Lake Chungara, is one of the highest lakes in the world. Visitors can engage in mountaineering, hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching in Lauca National Park. There are a few archaeological sites within the park which has churches and monuments that were constructed by the early European settlers.
- Chilean Lake District
Stretching nearly 330 km from Temuco to Puerto Montt, adjacent to the south central coastline of Chile, is a region popularly referred to as the Chilean Lake District. The region, as the name suggests, is known for the presence of several lakes which are situated along the foothills of the Andes. The region bears a strong resemblance to the Alpine lakes in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. Interestingly, the resemblance does not end there. With the settlement of Mapuche farmers from that very region of Europe, even the architecture of the small towns along these lakes resemble those of Europe. There are tons of outdoor activities that you can engage in the Chilean lake District. Hiking, biking, whitewater rafting, mountain climbing, horseback riding, canoeing, and kayaking are some that are most popular. In the winter months, you can also trying skiing.
- Easter Island
Despite being over 3500 km west off the coast of Chile, Easter Island remains on the most popular tourist attractions of the country. This remote Polynesian in the Pacific Ocean is one of the most remote islands on the planet, but does not fail to have a high footfall of tourists, thanks to the massive 887 stone statues created by the native Rapa Nui people. The island was first discovered by a Dutch explorer in 1722 and so named as it was sighted on Easter Sunday. These stone statues, called moai, are scattered all over the island, but the most impressive collection is at Tongariki where 15 of the moai are lined on a traditional platform, called ahu. Such is the social significance of these statues that they are protected by the Rapa Nui National Park and by the island itself being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These attractions have significantly overshadowed other attractions on Easter Island like the Father Englert Anthropological Museum and several stunning beaches and surfing spots. Easter Island is almost midway between Chile and Tahiti but is best accessed from Chile by flight. Keep at least a couple of days on hand if you want to visit this attraction.
- Valle de la Luna
Valle de la Luna, or the Moon Valley, is located in the north eastern part of Chile and is a part of the Atacama Desert, one of the driest regions on planet earth. The place gets its name from the eerie resemblance of the landscape to that of the surface of the moon. Dry lake beds, rocky outcrops, and vast stretches of remoteness may make the place look inhospitable, but is extremely popular with tourists. Millions of years of erosion has created this stunning landscape which is to be seen to be believed. Such is its resemblance to extra terrestrial landscapes that a prototype of the Mars Rover was tested here for its dry and forbidding terrain!
- Torres del Paine
Located in the southernmost region of Chile, the Torres del Paine offers some of the most stunning nature scenery of the country. It is part of a national park that comprises of glaciers, mountains, lakes, and rocky valleys. The highlight is the three spectacular granite peaks — Towers of Paine, rising to a height of about 2500 m. Shaped by the forces of glacial ice, the Towers of Paine areone of the most photographed and recognizable attractions of Chile. The park has many well marked hiking trails which will allow you to explore the dramatic beauty of the landscape. However, if you are planning to go for a long hike, it is highly recommended to appoint a local guide.
Originally posted 2017-03-17 08:26:11.